WARRINGTON Wolves suffered their third defeat of the season at the hands of St Helens as they were well beaten 14-34 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in a dress rehearsal for the play-off semi-final.
The Wolves took the lead through Kevin Brown when three players, one from Warrington and two from St Helens were in the sin bin.
Sparks flew in the 13th minutes when three yellow cards were handed out following a melee involving most players on the pitch.
Ryan Atkins was sent to cool off along with Mark Percival and Matthew Lees from St Helens.
It followed Tyrone Roberts being on the receiving end of an unfortunate knee to the head from Matty Lees in the act of making a tackle.
The Wolves took advantage of the extra man to take the lead through Brown but it was pretty much one way traffic after that as St Helens took control of the game.
There will be few outside Warrington who would bet against St Helens, with home advantage, progressing to the Grand Final – but in one off games anything is possible and Warrington are still just 80 minutes away from a return to Old Trafford.
But before then they face a trip to Wakefield next week and then the small obstacle of a trip to the league leaders!
With both sides missing key players, Saints were ahead 6-14 by the break thanks to tries from Luke Douglas and winger Regan Grace.
Four more followed after the interval from Jonny Lomax and Danny Richardson and two late on from Ben Barba who is now Super League’s top try scorer with 26 tries for the season.
Richardson booted over five goals as Saints maintained their form going into the last-four rematch with the Wire in a fortnight’s time.
Warrington, in their final home game of the season, scored consolation tries through Toby King and and spectacular effort from Bryson Goodwin, who dived in at the corner in the closing minutes to touch down one handed.
Stefan Ratchford, Bryson Goodwin, Toby King, Ryan Atkins, Josh Charnley, Kevin Brown, Tyrone Roberts, Chris Hill, Declan Patton, Michael Cooper, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Bodene Thompson, Ben Westwood.
Subs Joe Philbin, George King, Harvey Livett, Morgan Smith.
Ben Barba, Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Danny Richardson, Luke Thompson, Morgan Knowles, Matthew Lees, Zeb Taia, James Bentley, Jon Wilkin.
Subs: Theo Fages, Luke Douglas, Dominique Peyroux, Jack Ashworth.
Warrington Wolves 14
Tries: Brown (23), King (65), Goodwin (78)
Conversions: Patton (23)
St Helens 34
Tries: Douglas (32), Grace (39), Lomax (51), Richardson (53), Barba (58,76)
Conversions: Richardson (5,32,52,54,77)